Maconchy was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and grew up in the English and Irish countryside. She enrolled at at the Royal College of Music in London at the age of sixteen studying under Charles Wood and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
In 1930, Maconchy married William LeFanu with whom she later had two daughters. Her first daughter, Elizabeth Anna LeFanu, was born in 1939, and her second daughter, Nicola LeFanu, was born in 1947.
In 1933, Maconchy's quintet for oboe and strings won a prize in the London Daily Telegraph Chamber Music Competition, and was recorded by Helen Gaskel with the Griller Quartet soon afterwards on HMV Records.
In 1959, Maconchy chaired the Composers' Guild of Great Britain, the first woman to do so. In 1960, she was awarded the Cobbett Medal for chamber music. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1977, and made Dame Commander (DBE) in 1987.
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- Uglow, Jennifer S. & Maggy Hendry (1999). "Maconchy, Elizabeth". The Northeastern Dictionary of Women's Biography (3rd ed.). UPNE. pp. 347–348. ISBN 9781555534219. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
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- "Announcement of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division): DBE". Supplement to the London Gazette (50848). 13 June 1987. p. 6. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- "Announcement of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division): CBE". Supplement to the London Gazette (47102). 31 December 1976. p. 9. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
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